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Digesting the lowest rung of pop culture so you don't have to!
(Although, if you are a Sherlock fan, you’ve probably already saw it.)
A month after it aired, I was finally able to sit down and watch the hotly anticipated Sherlock special, The Abominable Bride. Originally pitched as a one-off to tide viewer over until the show properly returns in 2017, the special proved to be anything but that. And it’s completely jarring turn mid-way through utterly derails what could have been a fun diversion in the show’s history.
The premise as promoted by the BBC and the show’s producers had the cast recreate the adventures of Sherlock in his original, literary setting of the 1880s. This sounded like a great approach for a one-off episode. Put the contemporary-setting Sherlock and “revert” it back to its novel-origins. A nice hook for the fans of the show.
But it doesn’t even do that. About mid-way through, it is revealed that the entire 1880s segment is a drug-induced dream that Sherlock is having immediately after the events of “His Last Vow” (much of the present-day stuff takes place on the plane Sherlock was in). He is attempting to solve a 100 year-old case in his “mind palace” in order for him to figure out how Moriarty is alive. Let’s first ignore that Sherlock shouldn’t have known that Moriarty was apparently alive yet (he was still on the plane with no television access). More importantly, how does a 100 year-old case of a dead woman coming back from the grave and killing others help Sherlock figure out Moriarty’s resurrection?
Complicating this further is that the dream is sprinkled with several character bits and squabbling that Sherlock would never have dreamt. Nor does it make any sense that the dream had an underlying theme of women’s rights which Sherlock would not have really cared about given the crime to be solved.
Sherlock is smart, obviously, but his dream acted more like a story that he was telling to himself since the investigation culminated in him discovering a secret group of women trying to take down the corrupt high-society men. Furthermore, the fact that his dream had sequences in which Sherlock wasn’t present for completely derails how he could have figured out the crime.
It was a nifty enough idea, but it just didn’t work and falls apart under scrutiny. I know I am being nitpicky, but here is the thing I’ve always believed. If a movie/TV show has plot holes, but you don’t really notice them until the story is over, then it did it’s by engaging the viewer and the plot holes can be easily forgiven. If you can notice them while watching the movie/TV show, then that becomes a problem. The Abominable Bride is the latter.
They should not have had any present-day stuff and let the special be in the 1880s. It would have much stronger. I’m not sure why they didn’t commit to it. Adding the present-day sequences just muddled up the story, and made it convoluted (and even more convoluted when some of the present-day sequences turned out to be part of the dream). This was such a disappointing return to what is usually a fun show to watch. Hopefully, when the show returns (possibly in 2017 – but who knows for sure since Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman are too busy being movie stars), they’ll right the ship after this bump in the road.